Happy Hour: Summer Wine 101 with Club W
Extended daylight, al fresco dining, fireworks — there are a lot of reasons to raise a glass to summer. We’re toasting the season with our friends at Club W and picking up tasting tips along the way. They make delicious wine at a fantastic price and deliver them to your doorstep, so you never have to go a night without a glass of wine before bed.
Rachel Fox, their resident wine expert responsible for introducing new bottles to restaurants and shops, gave us the inside scoop on what’s trending this summer, the “grows-there-goes-there” approach for pairing wine with food and more.
First things first, what’s on your summer wine bucket list?
Summer ’15 is all about the throwback! Classic white varietals that have been on the back burner for a while — like Viognier, Muscadet, Roussanne, Chenin Blanc — are coming back in a big way. Every hip wine list in Los Angeles has at least one New World interpretation of those classic French beauties available. What’s better than a stunning glass of Chenin Blanc? A stunning glass of sparkling Chenin Blanc paired with Parachute’s White Linen Bedding…we’re sparkling everything this summer.
Speaking of sparkling, American vintners are gaining buzz for producing some really fabulous bubbles. What are some names we should know?
Along with the release of our first sparkling wine, Oh Snap!, be on the lookout for lots more bubbles to come this fall and holiday season! But we’re not the only ones. I asked Ryan Zotovich, our Director of Winemaking, for some of his list of top producers that have recently joined the sparkling game. He points out Sea Smoke and Brewer-Clifton, along with the Under the Wire guys who should be releasing their sparklings any day now. Jordan Salcito, the beverage director of Momofuku in New York, is also making some sparkling under her label Bellus. She teamed up with Copain Wines in Sonoma to produce La Vie En Bulles.
It happens every year: We bust out the BBQ and then totally blank on what to stock in the cooler (besides beer, naturally). What wines play well with grilled food — especially more adventurous, globally inspired meals?
BBQs can be tricky. Bold flavored sauces and finger foods can be tough to pair with. With American hot dogs, burgers or ribs, pick a US or Australian white or rosè sparkler. If you have European sausages on the grill, try something from Germany or Austria. If you’re going a Latin direction with carne asada or pork carnitas, try an Argentinian or Chilean bubbly. The chilled wine will be refreshing during a warm day outside, and the carbonation should be helpful in keeping the palate cleansed.
Wine cocktails are also on our radar. What are your tips for for a crowd-pleaser that packs a punch?
Sangria is arguably the perfect summer cocktail — easy to drink and hard to mess up! You can be super flexible with your recipes, depending on what fruits you find in your refrigerator. I recommend at least one citrus fruit and either berries or tropical fruits. Identify some of the flavors in the wine that you’re using with your palate, and use that flavor profile to pick your ingredients. If you’re feeling a little ambitious, Club W has also mixed up some seriously delicious alternatives.
Have we reached peak rosè? It’s everywhere (seriously, just check Instagram). Beyond the classic Provençal style (which has been produced for 2,600 years – talk about a trend with staying power), what are some fresh ways to drink pink?
When it comes to rosè, you can’t go wrong with a grows-there-goes-there approach: If you’re having Italian, grab an Italian rosè. The pairing will not only be harmonious, but you’ll also discover a lot of different countries have versatile pink drinks. There are also more and more different varietals being sparkled…don’t hesitate to grab for a rosè of Tempranillo or Valdiguie for a new take on the rosè experience. For more rosé options, check out these picks from Club W’s Chief Wine Officer, Brian Smith.
Any final advice?
“When in doubt, do bubbles!”